ashton-remaxThis is the second installment of a weekly series on how a fan learns the game inside and out and provides a unique prospective on the weeks’ past games.

What a week to get the hockey season started! Though the boys in the Gold and Blue didn’t quite get the results we wanted, there are still 79 games left to go in the season. So for all that are out there panicking that we’re in a death spiral and skating on thin ice, maybe a break from that and a read of this story can soothe even some of the most nervous of nerves.

In this week’s season opener of As The Puck Spins, we drop a puck into the second article with a look with opening night and the games that got the ball rolling for the 2016-2017 season. Without further delay, grab your favorite beverage and snack and enjoy this past week in review from the eyes of Dr. Dougerz.

The Golden Road & Opening Night

For those that are viewing this article for the first time, welcome! The prelude to this week is located here if you want to take a look. Opening week is always a special event for any sports team. This year was extra special because I got to be a part of it. Thanks to the Smashville Reward points I receive as a season ticket holder, I was able to cast in 10,000 to participate in escorting someone down the infamous Gold carpet on Opening Night 2016.

Gold Walk picture of Dr. Dougerz (left) & Mattias Ekholm (right)

Gold Walk sideline picture of Doug (left) and Mattias Ekholm (right) — Photo courtesy of Stephen Hamby

To sum up the experience, all I can say is “Wow!” The event is very unique because season ticket holders like myself get to escort a player, coach or personality of the Predators all the way from the street curb to the entrance of Bridgestone Arena. What is cool about is you don’t know who you’ll get. It really is all at random. Even the place we had in queue was, well, random.

Summing it up, the player du jour that I got to escort was none other than number 14 – Mattias Ekholm. For the short time we were in the car coming up to the Gold Walk, we talked about a couple of different topics including moving to Nashville, things we liked to do, and so on. It was the first time that I was able to have a conversation with a player on the team. However, once we got to the carpet, it was all business. He rocked out in a blue suit while I dawned the 2016 All Star jersey. As we walked up, it felt like we were rock stars going on stage. Thanks, Paul! Will I do it again next year, heck yes!

Shortly after the Gold Walk, it was time to enter the barn (arena for people that may be confused) and spend time in the home away from home. The place was decked out in gold full of rally towels, stocked up vendors, personnel and staff that were welcoming you back for one of the most electric seasons yet in the teams’ 19-year history. If you weren’t there in person, you missed out. The arena was the loudest it’s been since the playoffs ended last year. The chants, the excitement and the chance to see friends I met last year. Yeah, hockey season has begun in Smashville. So, what about the game? Can’t forget that. The team got things going with a shot right down the middle of the ice zipping into the back of the net by no other than our newest addition in the Preds family, Mr. Pernell Karl (P.K.) Subban. Combine two additional goals by Captain Fisher and Roman Josi and a hat trick of assists by Ryan Johansen, the Preds squeaked out a 3-2 win over the Blackhawks on the front half of a back-to-back.

Back-To-Back Attack

Though baseball dominated most screens in the local establishments, there was hockey to be played immediately after the season opener – in Chicago. As I enjoyed a plain burger (well-done, err BURN IT!) and some fries, something came to mind that helped me understand the game a little more: lines and pairs. Now, I’m not talking about the latest fashion trends here but a fundamental concept of the game. A team is made up of four different lines. The first and second lines have your elite players whereas the third and fourth lines would have energy players, grinders and scrappers. Make no mistake – all are critically important to the success of the team both on and off the ice. Within that, you have two wingers (a lefty and righty), a center, and two defensemen.

These lines can get shuffled like a deck of cards depending on the team, game situation and other related factors. Since the Predators just played the Blackhawks the night before, some experimentation was in store. It’ll be a bit before they’re set ‘in stone.’

Though the team dug themselves a fairly deep hole early in the first period Saturday night, they clawed within a goal a couple times late in the first period and through the rest of the game. Sadly, the record evened out when they lost to the Blackhawks 5-3. Don’t worry, revenge is coming later this season and the it will be bittersweet with a holiday flair. Tuesday night was an intense game too, but sadly ended up getting star-struck in a 2-1 loss to put the record to 1-2-0. Eh, no worries guys and gals. We got this.

Honorable Horn Blasts For The Home Team

While the record may not be so hot, it is only fair to say that there are some achievements worth passing along. Fist pumps goes out to Ry-Jo with four assists to lead the team in that category AND points (4), Captain Fisher leading the way with a pair of goals, the amazing Predators’ staff of the for a great start to the season, and Sean Henry for being a supportive friend, and a part of my extended family. Way to go guys!

Final Thoughts Before The Next Go Round

In closing, this week certainly had its ups and downs but things are looking up. The sun is shining in Predators country and next thing you know, it will be the holidays, snow and other winter joys. Big games on tap this week including at Detroit at the Joe Friday, the Stanley Cup champs coming into town Saturday, and the beginnings of a five game western road trip on the 26th. Hang on tight, #theride has just begun.